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1 Corinthians 1:12

ESV What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
NIV What I mean is this: One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another, 'I follow Cephas'; still another, 'I follow Christ.'
NASB Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, 'I am with Paul,' or 'I am with Apollos,' or 'I am with Cephas,' or 'I am with Christ.'
CSB What I am saying is this: One of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ."
NLT Some of you are saying, 'I am a follower of Paul.' Others are saying, 'I follow Apollos,' or 'I follow Peter, ' or 'I follow only Christ.'
KJV Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

What does 1 Corinthians 1:12 mean?

Paul has revealed his first reason for writing to the Christians in Corinth. He has received a troubling report that they are engaged in "quarreling." The term Paul uses here is one associated with deep, heated strife and emotional bickering: eris, which was also the name of the Greek goddess of discord. Instead of being united in Christ, as is the expectation for all churches, the Corinthians were hotly divided.

Here we learn the source of their conflict. Different factions within the church have apparently aligned themselves with one of at least four different teachers. This passage lists Paul, Apollos, Cephas—Peter—and Christ. There might have been more, and Paul is simply listing these for the sake of example. Part of what's implied here is that followers of these factions have aligned themselves against the other leaders and those who follow them.

Apollos is a somewhat mysterious figure in the early church. He was an Alexandrian Jew who became well known for his eloquent speaking, his knowledge of the Scriptures, and his bold teaching. When they saw that Apollos's knowledge was incomplete, Paul's friends and co-workers Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and helped him to better understand Christianity. He later traveled to Corinth with recommendation letters from the Christians in Ephesus (Acts 18:24–19:1).

Apollos is not known to have worked directly with Paul, but is not shown to have worked against him, either. He seems to have been a talented, independent Christian teacher empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 18:25).

Cephas is another name for the apostle Peter (John 1:42). It's unclear if Peter ever came to Corinth himself. Some scholars speculate that devout Jews who had converted to Christianity may have been more comfortable aligning themselves with Peter's faithful Jewish roots.

The group that declared "I follow Christ" would seem, on the surface, to be the one Paul would give praise to. He does not do so outright, suggesting that this faction may have championed Christ in some distorted way.
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